A Store-Cupboard Supper: Caprese-Inspired Baked Eggs

basil tomato chevre baked eggs

So there are some days when my fridge and crisper are scraping the bottom. I put off buying anything till my weekly farm delivery list pops into my email, and I’m making do with very, very bare meals. This was one of those days. I had eggs, and some basil. Cherry tomatoes. Bread. And of course, all kinds of pulses and grains, but I really didn’t want to go the dal-chawal route again.

Inspiration struck when I saw this post on Popsugar Food about caprese salad variations. Now the holy trinity is tomatoes, basil and mozarella. But since I was working with a skeletal fridge and pantry, I made do with what I had: goat’s cheese. I cracked the eggs into ramekins, seasoned with salt and pepper, added the rest of the ingredients and into the oven they went for 12-odd minutes. And dinner was done, just like that. I added some cream to the eggs, it gave the dish a nice silky texture.

Sure, it’s not perfect: but store cupboard meals are never meant to be. But they sure do satisfy!

CAPRESE-INSPIRED BAKED EGGS

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • A few leaves of basil, roughly torn
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • A few teaspoons of olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons cream
  • Goat’s cheese to crumble over the top

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 200 C
  • Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of each ramekin and crack an egg into each one.
  • Divide equally and scatter the torn basil leaves and tomatoes between each ramekin.
  • Season with salt and pepper and add a tablespoon of cream to each ramekin.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the white is set and the yolks runny. If you like firmer yolks, bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Once out of the overn, crumble some goat’s cheese over the top.
  • Serve with bread.

A Simple Summer Chickpea Salad

It’s getting hot in Pune. Unbearably hot. The kind of hot that makes heavy eating, and standing over the stove for too long, a real chore.

I tend to feel sluggish in the warmer months if I eat heavy foods and spicy curries- so chicken curry and sambhar are replaced with pachadi and curd rice. And on many days, we eat salad.

What I love about salads are that they’re pretty forgiving creatures, as long as you have an open mind. There are no must-have or can’t-use ingredients. You can use all kinds of vegetables & herbs, proteins & carbohydrates, nuts & grains to create a really filling, tasty meal-in-a-bowl. Fattoush and panzanella make use of bread, som tam and the Waldorf make use of fruits and nuts, while a classic caeser and nicoise put eggs and fish to good (and delicious!) use.

When I make my salads as a meal, I need to have some form of protein in it. Unfortunately, I am neither Rachel Allen nor Nigella Lawson, so I rarely never have leftover meat from a Sunday roast in the form or chicken strips and beef shreds. So my protein of choice is either canned tuna or kabuli chana, which is a staple in most Indian pantries.

The only cooking this salad requires is boiling the chickpeas- but you are more than welcome to use canned chickpeas. I often pressure-cook a batch of chickpeas (two cups) on Sunday and store them in the fridge for salad or hummus during the week.

So this salad came together on a weekday when it was too hot to cook. It’s simple, and light on the stomach but still keeps you sated. I like adding some kind of nut or seed to my salads this days- they add a lovely bite and crunch, plus they are really good for you. If I’m using almonds, I just soak them and use them raw. With peanuts, I like to toast them lightly in their skin and crush them before adding in. And watermelon and sesame seeds I just sprinkle over the top as they are; though toasting them would be a nice touch.

SUMMER CHICKPEA SALAD

INGREDIENTS

For The Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Garlic salt, celery salt or store-bought Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For The Salad

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 2 medium cucumbers, chopped
  •  8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large red onion, sliced into half moons
  • A fistful each of chopped mint and coriander (optional)
  • A fistful of pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds or any seeds of your choice. You could also use some soaked raw almonds. (This is also optional.)

METHOD

  • To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until evenly combined. Adjust for salt-sweetness-acidity as per your liking, and set aside.
  • For the salad, add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. (Use your hands, use tongs, use your kids toy spade, it doesn’t matter!)
  • Pour the dressing over the salad, toss well again and serve.

Cookbooks I Am Coveting

So I haven’t been cooking anything interesting except my kale skillets and sambar and humble dal-roti-sabzi. Nothing interesting or exciting enough to post here!

But I have been adding things to my ever-growing Amazon wishlist. It’s what I do. Even Nigella Lawson admits it; some of her recipes are a result of what she calls her bad “Amazon habit,” trolling the site at night and clicking on one book recommendation after another. Well, I do the same, digitally thumbing-through cookbooks to see what they have to offer. These are a few I am dying to get my hands on!

images courtesy | mynewroots.org/annajones.co.uk/harpercollins.co.uk

courtesy | mynewroots.org/annajones.co.uk/harpercollins.co.uk

My New Roots by Sarah Britton

We all get lost down the social media rabbit hole (I know I’ve been using the term a lot, but there really is no other way to put it,) and while some of those falls leave you feeling disappointed and irritable (how did she lose all that baby weight in a month?! She gets to travel aaalll over, boohoo,) some social media black holes can actually be quite delightful. My New Roots was one such discovery. After going through Patrick J Adams’ Instagram list, I discovered My New Roots, an account he follows. I clicked, clicked, clicked again and never looked back. Sarah B is a holistic nutritionist, and what I love about her site- apart from the great recipes and beautiful photography- is how much knowledge she shares about ingredients and different kinds of foods. She goes in-depth about the benefits of buckwheat, goat’s milk, bee pollen, farro and more, without getting all textbookish. Her nutrition background + training as a vegetarian chef will make this book a great resource for plant-based eating.

A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones

I first came across this book during my weekly check-in at 101 Cookbooks. I love Heidi’s approach to food, and when she recommended this book, I had to take a closer look. Anna Jones has worked with Jamie Oliver and follows a less is more approach, with Californian inspiration. The book is dedicated to clean, meat-free eating: something I like and something I’m trying to do more of this year. Plus, the book comes with charts on how to combine flavours, textures and techniques to create variations of the same “hero” ingredient. I think this would be a wise investment to go deeper into clean, plant-heavy eating.

Eat.Nourish.Glow. by Amelia Freer

This one has been getting a LOT of buzz ever since the dapper Sam Smith posted his love for author Amelia Freer on his Instagram account, but I became a fan prior to the Smith-stamp. I read an article about Hemsley+Hemsley on Get The Gloss, and discovered Amelia Freer on the site. Freer champions a diet rich in whole foods, healthy fats and fresh organic produce- but the book isn’t just recipes, it’s a manifesto and guide for eating well and understanding nutrition. And as someone who wants to learn more about the nutritional value of the food I’m cooking, I’ll definitely be getting this one.

images courtesy | food52.com/anthropologie.com

courtesy | food52.com/anthropologie.com

Food52 Genius Recipes

Food52 is my go-to source for when I don’t know what to make. If I have an ingredient and want to do something different with it, I go to Food52 and do a quick search. If I’m looking for a way to make pasta not boring, it’s Food52 again.

I love their Genius Recipes column, curated and written by Kristen Miglore. The column focuses on the best way to prepare an ingredient or dish or dishes up a new way to make an old favourite even better. From tips to creating a silky grilled cheese that won’t burn, to the science behind Nigella Lawson’s no-cook pasta sauce, the column is wonderfully written. Diverse recipes to suit every palate, and techniques that will make you a better and more resourceful cook. When the column is this good, how can one not buy the book?

Paris Pastry Club by Fanny Zanotti

I’m a sucker for cookbooks that are more than just cookbooks- the kind that are part-memoir with some stories thrown in. I came across the book recommendation on Amazon, and since there’s a part of me that still wants to eat cake for breakfast, I thumbed through it. Further internet scouting brought me to some of her articles. Zanotti is an accomplished pastry chef with strong French influences, and her writing style is warm and inviting. This sampling from The Guardian made me sure that I’d want to pick up this book at some point.